Velazquez Leads Letter to Biden Administration Urging Dropping of Trump-Era Effort to Deny SSI Benefits to Puerto Rico
Congresswoman is Joined by Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Grijalva, Soto, and R. Torres
Washington, DC—Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and four other Members of Congress have sent a letter to President Biden urging his Administration to honor their commitment to ensuring parity in federal benefits for Puerto Rico and drop a Trump-era federal petition to pursue a case to undermine access to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for those living in Puerto Rico.
In August of 2020, the Trump Administration appealed the case United States v. Vaello-Madero to the U.S. Supreme Court, justifying the historically wrong and constitutionally flawed exclusion of Puerto Rico residents from receiving SSI benefits. This move came after a U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico and First Circuit both ruled that the exclusion of Puerto Ricans from these programs is unconstitutional under the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause. In the letter, the lawmakers are urging the Biden Administration to withdraw the government’s writ of certiorari which is currently pending before the Supreme Court.
“We recognize the Administration’s commitment to ensuring Puerto Rico receives parity in all applicable federal programs,” wrote the lawmakers. “It is long overdue that Puerto Ricans who qualify for SSI benefits can start receiving their benefits as soon as possible. As such, we urgently ask you to exercise discretion and have the Department of Justice withdraw the government’s petition for writ of certiorari. Time is of the essence and we owe it to Puerto Ricans on the island to be able to receive the same SSI benefits they would otherwise be receiving on the mainland.”
The full letter is available here.